These are, as everyone is saying, strange times.
24 hours can seem like an eternity. Once you get used to the new norm, the cards are tossed up and land in new and unfamiliar positions.
Things are… weird. I guess you may be feeling it too. You’re not quite sure what you feel; sometimes a rising sense of panic, others frustrated – perhaps bemused or even nonchalant? – and maybe a bit scared.
Anxiety thrives on uncertainty. And these are most definitely uncertain times.
There have been occasions in the last few days when my brain has been yelling: ‘Run! Hide! Buy all the tinned toms and fusilli you can! Escape to a bunker somewhere!’ (Seriously – as if bunkers are ten a penny these days. Would my husband’s man shed suffice, I wonder?).
Our brains are hard-wired to react: fight, flight or freeze. It’s in periods of uncertainty that these animal instincts kick in.
What I have found is that the binge watching of news, of social media feeds, where language reserved for wartime is bandied about freely, serves only to exacerbate these feelings. Fear, it seems, is spreading faster than the virus itself.
I am gently bringing my brain back to a place of balance and rationality because a mind racing along thinking of all the worst-case scenarios achieves nothing but stress.
I’m taking practical steps to soothe myself and am finding comfort in the ordinary during extraordinary times. Perhaps you’re doing the same. Here’s a few.
– Cutting my media and social media consumption to reduce catastrophising.
– Heading straight to authoritative bodies, the NHS and government, for information and medical advice.
– Not getting caught up in the supermarket scrum.
– Buying only what I need.
– Looking out for others.
– Sitting with these feelings. And letting them pass.
I am also reminding myself of the simple pleasures which give purpose and meaning to life. Like these:
– Getting outside for a run to move my body and exercise my mind. Many of us really need to do this, now more than ever. Do it and enjoy the solitude while you’re there.
– Appreciating the peace of watching a rising and setting sun (with my camera – you can never have enough photos of a sun plopping beneath the horizon).
– Being more considerate when I shop and dropping some items into the donation station for others.
– Reading a good book (how has it taken THIS LONG to discover Hilary Mantel? The woman is a literary goddess!)
– Listening to the radio. Radio 1’s Greg James and Radio 6 are havens of silliness, delight and great music. Right now, as I write this, Radio 6 is playing ‘We All Stand Together’ by Paul McCartney. Legends.
– Walking on the beach as the tide ebbs and flows.
– Listening to birdsong from my garden. There’s so much beauty to observe from the window of your own home if you look hard enough.
– Laughing and smiling as often as possible.
– Checking in with others.
I’m taking sensible precautions around physical distancing and if/when the time comes when I do feel unwell then I’ll hunker down (maybe not in my husband’s man shed – a nest of cushions in my living room is a more attractive prospect) and hope to recover, as majority of us will.
Maybe these unprecedented times and necessary social restrictions will teach us to be kinder, more considered, less consumptive.
This is a daily reminder for myself more than anything… but I hope it will help you too.
Stay safe and look after yourselves xx